Period: 1855

Smith’s career in the harbor

L.O. Smith needed a job. At Skeppsholmen in the Old Town of Stockholm, he ran into an acquaintance from home. Apparently the acquaintance had such a bad hangover that he was unable to work. As the captain of the ship wanted to continue the party, Smith was left in charge of the entire office. His new job included loading the ship as well as inspecting new staff. He also had contact with the ship broker who represented the owner in the harbor. To be able to talk to all the captains who came to Stockholm, Smith learned German, French and English.

The shipping company Nauckler noticed Smith’s work and offered him employment. Smith accepted. One day, he ended up scolding an arrogant clerk who promptly informed the employer what had happened. As a result, Smith was fired. The incident gave him a dislike for bureaucrats that stayed with him all his life. Through Mr Smith, his stepfather and benefactor in Karlshamn, he was offered a job at Flygaresson, one of Stockholm’s largest ship brokers. Smith accepted on the condition that he would have vacation during the winter months, so that he could travel abroad and learn more languages. Flygaresson accepted. Alongside his regular duties at Flygaresson, Smith earned a lot of money by delivering goods to the captains from different countries. He used the money to pay off his father’s debts, and asked his father to move to Stockholm. As he had promised Flygaresson, he spent the winter months studying, and soon he was fluent in seven languages. The future king of vodka had made himself indispensable in the harbor. He understood that he was right when he had said earlier that “those who master languages, master people”.